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'Yotes Notes: Fitzgerald Drops Puck vs. Penguins

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was the guest of honor at Saturday's game

by Dave Vest @davest4yotes / Coyotes Sr. Director of News Content

Fitzgerald joins the broadcast

PIT@ARI: Larry Fitzgerald discusses his career

Larry Fitzgerald joins the broadcast during the 1st intermission to discuss his football career and dropping the puck at the Coyotes game

  • 03:30 •

GLENDALE -- With 10,000 of his bobble head dolls sprinkled around the arena, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald dropped the ceremonial first puck at Gila River Arena on Saturday night.

With his sons at his side, Fitzgerald joined Coyotes captain Shane Doan and Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby at center ice for the star-studded moment and photo op.

Video: PIT@ARI: Larry Fitzgerald drops the puck in Arizona

Fittingly, Coyotes center Martin Hanzal, who like Fitzgerald wears No. 11, scored two goals in the game, which Arizona won, 4-3, in overtime. Hanzal was named the game's No. 1 star.

Fitzgerald was the guest of honor at Saturday's game and the crowd welcomed him with loud cheers. It was a busy day for Fitzgerald as he competed in the third round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in Pebble Beach, Calif., just hours before face-off. He and pro golfer Kevin Streelman are tied for fourth place in the PGA tournament, just four shots behind the leaders with one round to play on Sunday.

Fitzgerald stayed for the whole game and mingled with players from both teams afterward. 

Earlier this week, Fitzgerald skated with Doan and other Coyotes after a team practice at Gila River Arena. It was the Minnesota native's first time on ice skates.  

Video: Larry Fitzgerald skates with Shane Doan, Coyotes

• Hanzal did more than just score two goals, he matched up against NHL goal-scoring leader Sidney Crosby for most of the night and helped to keep Crosby out of the scoring summary. He also delivered four hits, blocked three shots and won 18 of 34 face-offs in 23:39 of ice time.

"He was a monster for us," goalie Mike Smith said. "Right from the drop of the puck he was engaged in the game. He led by example out there tonight and that's what we need from him."

Hanzal played despite not feeling 100 percent. He missed Thursday's game because of illness.

"That's hard, especially coming off a couple of days sick and going against, if not the best, one of the best players in the world head to head," Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "That's a big challenge. Marty came up big tonight."

Crosby entered the game needing two points to become the 86th NHL player to reach 1,000 points. He got zero vs. the Coyotes.

"He's a great player so if you give him room he's going to score against you," Hanzal said. "I was trying to be hard on him and it worked ... I wasn't really focusing on his points. I was focusing on getting the win, and that's what we did."

Hanzal liked the way the Coyotes started the game and didn't quit despite blowing a two-goal lead in the third period.

"We started on time," Hanzal said. "That was the key. We played hard and we were hard in the battles. That's how we dictated tempo."

Video: Martin Hanzal discusses Coyotes' OT win over Pens

• Smith coughed up the puck while trying to play it with his stick late in the game, and his gaffe led directly to Pittsburgh's second goal.

"That play can't happen," Smith said. "I understand that, but that ice is a joke ... It's not an excuse, but it's something that has to get better. It's like slush out there."

Video: Mike Smith discusses Coyotes' OT win over Pens

Connor Murphy scored the game-winning goal in overtime with just 22 seconds left. The goal was Murphy's first of the season and his first since April 5 of last season. It was also his first overtime goal in 229 NHL games.

"It's exciting," Murphy said. "(It's) probably not the best goal for them giving up from that wide of an angle, but obviously (I'm) happy with it."

Video: Connor Murphy discusses Coyotes' OT win over Pens

• Forward Tobias Rieder scored Arizona's first goal at 6:40 of the second period. Rieder now leads the team with 12 goals with 31 games to play. His career-high for goals in a season is 14, which he set last season. 

• Captain Shane Doan played in his 1,519th NHL game, all with the Coyotes franchise, passing Ray Bourque for fourth place on the NHL's list of games played for one team.

• Defenseman Kevin Connauton returned to the lineup for the first time since Jan. 19. Skating with Murphy, Connauton played 13:10 and co-led the team with five hits.

Video: Dave Tippett discusses Coyotes' OT win over Pens

 

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